For this month’s First on the First, Carrie and I decide we wanted to tackle croissants for our next project. No sooner had that been decided, the monthly assignment for the Daring Bakers’ Challenge was revealed… what are the chances? Yep, you guessed it.. Croissants were the challenge given to us. So I decided to post a little late and do a combo Daring Bakers/First on the First post today.
The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child! When croissants were decided upon I really had no idea what I was getting myself into or what it entailed. My only previous experience with croissants has been eating them. I do love croissants though and I’ve wanted to make them from scratch for quite some time now. I was of the frame of mind that if a bakery-bought croissant was this good then I can’t even imagine how amazing a fresh one, right out of the oven would taste but I desperately wanted to find out.
The Daring Bakers’ provided the necessary instructions for me to start out on this endeavor. As I reviewed the challenge, I started to get just a little nervous. I scrolled down my computer screen and scrolled and scrolled… there were 57 steps! (That’s also why there’s no sequence shots… this would have been a ridiculously loooong post with step-by-step photos.) I have to admit, I was now officially intimidated by this assignment. But that’s why I joined the Daring Bakers’… for a challenge.
So get this… As I began my work I quickly came to a realization. This wasn’t that difficult. I hate working with dough. In fact, I often avoid it at all costs. However, this dough is very easy to work with and didn’t frustrate me at all the way most other doughs have in the past. The making of croissants isn’t that hard however it is very time-consuming! The entire project takes about 12 hours to make although the majority of this time is spent waiting for the dough to rise and can even been done over the course of two days, which is the way I did it.
So as you read the recipe below, do not become frightened and shy away from making these incredible pastries. You can do this! You just need some patience because it’s just a lot of time spent waiting. The result is a wonderfully flakey, buttery croissant that doesn’t get any fresher. It’s a wonderful reward for the time spent making them. I will definitely make these again and next time I’m going to try nestling a little chocolate inside.
Now, don’t forget to scoot on over to Poet in the Pantry to check out Carrie’s croissant attempt!
¼ oz (7 gm) of fresh yeast, or 1¼ teaspoon (6¼ ml/4 gm) of dry-active yeast (about ½ sachet)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water (less than 100°F/38°C)
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4½ gm) sugar
1 3/4 cups (225 gm/½ lb) of strong plain flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
1½ teaspoon (7½ ml/9 gm) salt
½ cup (120 ml/¼ pint) milk
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
½ cup (120 ml/1 stick/115 gm/¼ lb) chilled, unsalted butter
1 egg, for egg wash
1. Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.
2. Measure out the other ingredients
3. Heat the milk until tepid (either in the microwave or a saucepan), and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar.
4. Place the flour in a large bowl.
5. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour.
6. Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated.
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute while you wash out the bowl.
8. Knead the dough eight to ten times only.
9. Place the dough back in the bowl, and place the bowl in the plastic bag.
10. Leave the bowl at approximately 75°F/24°C for three hours, or until the dough has tripled in size.
11. After the dough has tripled in size, remove it gently from the bowl, pulling it away from the sides of the bowl with your fingertips.
12. Place the dough on a lightly floured board or countertop, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches (20cm by 30cm).
13. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up)
14. Place the dough letter back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag.
15. Leave the dough to rise for another 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge.
16. Place the double-risen dough onto a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the plate in the fridge while you prepare the butter.
17. Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter
18. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board.
19. Using the rolling pin, beat the butter down a little, till it is quite flat.
20. Use the heel of your hand to continue to spread the butter until it is smooth. You want the butter to stay cool, but spread easily.
21. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board or counter. Let it rest for a minute or two.
22. Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
23. Remove the butter from the board, and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle.
24. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it ¼ inch (6 mm) across from all the edges.
25. Fold the top third of the dough down, and the bottom third of the dough up.
26. Turn the dough package 90 degrees, so that the top flap is to your right (like a book).
27. Roll out the dough package (gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
28. Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up.
29. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.
30. After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter.
31. Tap the dough with the rolling pin, to deflate it a little
32. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes
33. Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
34. Fold in three, as before
35. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
36. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours (or overnight, with something heavy on top to stop it from rising)
37. It’s now time to cut the dough and shape the croissants
38. First, lightly butter your baking sheet so that it is ready
39. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter
40. Roll the dough out into a 20 by 5 inch rectangle (51 cm by 12½ cm).
41. Cut the dough into two rectangles (each 10 by 5 inches (25½ cm by 12½ cm))
42. Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold
43. Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches (38 cm by 12½ cm).
44. Cut the rectangle into three squares (each 5 by 5 inches (12½ cm by 12½ cm))
45. Place two of the squares in the fridge
46. The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square.
47. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles.
48. Stretch the triangle out a little, so it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles.
49. Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape.
50. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet
51. Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total.
52. Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour
53. Preheat the oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
54. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water
55. Spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants.
56. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely
57. Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.